Since the “love jihad” conspiracy theories started spreading in India due to the rise of right-wing Hindu nationalism, many Muslim men were targeted in the country for allegedly luring Hindu women into Islam via love and marriage. But in a bizarre plot twist, a Muslim woman was accused of love jihad after allegedly running off with another girl.
The family of the minor lodged an #FIR at the police station in #Bikaner accusing the #teacher and her family members of influencing their #daughter and orchestrating her disappearance as part of a plot.
— Outlook India (@Outlookindia) July 5, 2023
Two women, aged 17 and 20, from Bikaner in the northern state of Rajasthan, were reported missing on June 30th. The 17-year-old girl is a Class 12 (equivalent to 12th Grade) student at a private school, while the 20-year-old was a former teacher at the same school.
The 17-year-old girl’s family filed a first information report (FIR) to the police the next day, accusing the teacher and her family of kidnapping and influencing their daughter as part of a plot. Hindu nationalist groups also sparked protests after the disappearance, noting the religious differences between the Hindu student and her teacher, who comes from a Muslim family, and using it as the basis for their 'love jihad' allegations.
The disappearance of the two 'missing' girls - ( 17 year and 20 year old), who in a video message confess that they are in lesbians and in love with each other, sparks protests in Bikaner organized by Hindu outfits, who claim 'love jihad' as the reason behind it.… pic.twitter.com/Sf4Y19InDE
— Tabeenah Anjum (@TabeenahAnjum) July 4, 2023
The complaint filed by the family accuses the teacher and her family of violating sections of the Indian Penal Code and relevant sections of the country’s Juvenile Justice Act.
“When she did not return home on the evening of June 30 from her school, we got worried. We went to her school and found out that not only our daughter but the teacher is also absent from the school. Hence we came to a point that she has been missing,” the family of the 17-year-old student said.
The father of the 20-year-old teacher also filed a missing report to the authorities in Bikaner, claiming that she boarded a bus to the school and left the bus midway while en route to the school. Her family members also said she was engaged to a man living in a neighboring district, and they were set to be married in a few months.
“We are equally worried about both. Our family only filed a missing report. But the minor (student’s) family has lodged an FIR against my sons and my daughter, who herself is missing,” the teacher’s father said.
Useless fücks won't protest about rising prices, scams, dalit abuse in Rajasthan, broken infrastructure but will have a breakdown over consensual relationships...
Bunch of idiots
— MainSamayHoon (@hokyarahahaibe) July 4, 2023
Authorities in Bikaner have launched an extensive search operation to locate the two girls and ensure they will return safely.
"One of the individuals is a 17-year-old minor. We are actively working to track their whereabouts and establish contact with them. We hope to find them soon," Bikaner police superintendent Tejaswani Gautam said.
The incident led to protests in Rajasthan, and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) criticized the ruling Indian National Congress (INC) and supported the protesters who closed their shops to raise awareness of the issue. Opposition leader Rajendra Rathore visited Bikaner and expressed his support for the protesters.
“Our innocent daughters are being brainwashed and kidnapped. The religious conversions are being carried out in the state in garb of love. Our culture is at risk, and they are trying to dilute it. The police should find out the missing girl and hand her over to her family safely,” Rathore said.
My heart goes out to the 17.5 years old lesbian girl who had to run away from home to escape a family that didn't accept her because of her sexuality.
What world are we leaving behind queer children? Who will step in to protect her from rabid mobs demanding her return home? https://t.co/xPmjnNz3bx
— Anish Gawande (@anishgawande) July 5, 2023
But the 17-year-old student allegedly revealed in a video that she and her 20-year-old partner ran away because they feared they would be married off to someone else.
“We could sense that the girl’s family has been thinking that I have been kidnapped, but the fact is that we have left our homes by our own choice because we both are in love and want to stay together. We are lesbians, and hence we cannot marry another man as per our family's wishes,” the 17-year-old girl said in an apologetic tone to their parents.
“The only reason we ran away was to avoid the family pressure as we are aware of our sexuality. I left my home on my own wish and accompanied her (the 20-year-old teacher). She did not force me at all, and neither did she ask me to make this video. The only reason behind making this video is to clear out the misunderstanding and confusion our families are creating,” she added.
My heart also goes out to the 20 year old teacher, forcefully engaged to get married to a man by her parents, who is now facing accusations of "love jihad."
Have we lost any semblance of basic humanity? Have we no shame?
— Anish Gawande (@anishgawande) July 5, 2023
But the 17-year-old girl’s family was not convinced of this explanation, with the girl’s uncle saying, "Our daughter is a minor and has been brainwashed. Of course, we have seen the video, but we don’t believe it. At this point in time, we want her back as soon as possible.”